Friday, August 11, 2017

Indignation over a tree

            The landmark that distinguishes my house is a wonderful old elm tree in front. The house was built in 1922, and I suspect the elm dates back that far. For twenty-five years, I have lived in feat that a Texas storm would bring it crashing down. Part of the fear, of course, was that it would land on my roof, but the greater fear was losing the tree. It somehow gives majesty to the property; without it, my house would be bare, exposed, just sitting there. A couple of years ago, I asked the city to check some dead branches at the top—it’s their tree, since it’s in the boulevard. The forester who came out said the dead was because trees were stressed by the drought we’d been having, but the tree was healthy. When I said I was so afraid he’d say it had to come down, he said, “No ma’am. We’re in the business of saving trees, not cutting them down.”

So today comes a letter from someone working with city planning. They want to install a ramp on my property and establish a new crossover to the school across the street. The letter writer said they would take out my “struggling” tree and replace it with a young tree of my choice. I’m afraid my answer was a bit sarcastic, but I was insulted by his use of struggling. I pointed out that losing the tree would diminish my property values, and no young tree will grow to that majestic height during my lifetime. I’m sorry, but what dolt wrote that letter? I told him firmly no and do not expect the matter to be pursued. There is a ramp and a crossing with a guard half a block down, and folks can use it. As for the planning person, he should talk to the forestry department.

This plays into my current concern about trees. I edit our neighborhood newsletter and am grateful to Linda Simmons, who advocates the city’s tree replacement program and has done an article about the importance of trees to a neighborhood. This flies in the face of our Texas governor who wants to pass some silly law permitting cities to cut down trees willy-nilly. I’m not a fan of the governor—that probably goes without saying—but this vendetta about trees is ridiculous. He was crippled by a tree falling on him, sued whoever (the city of Austin?), and received a settlement that apparently set him up for life (he has since pushed legislation which limits the amount of liability settlements). Then he tangled with the city over a huge old tree that stood where he wanted to build his house, as I hear the story, and he lost. So he’s angry at trees, and apparently not educated enough to recognize their aesthetic value nor environmental purpose. My Austin kids had a tree literally growing into their house—when they remodeled, the contractor cut it down, without a permit, and got a fine. But nobody hates trees because of that. What a petty world Texas government is. Yes, I am sorry about the governor’s injury, but I don’t think he’s handled any of this with grace.

Lovely unexpected rain tonight. I went in the house for happy hour with friends. Coming out, poor Jordan and friend Marge tried valiantly to help me walk, carry my wine, and hold an umbrella. No small trick. Such good girls.

When you live alone, you are innovative about meals. I particularly like a brand of marinated tuna, Tonnino’s—in olive oil and oregano. Found it in the store today, so tonight I cooked some orzo and added green peas and leftover corn at the last minute. Drained it, and stirred in tuna with some of its oil. So good. I had doubts about the corn with tuna, but it was great. One more leftover banished!


Claire A. Murray said...

Stick with it, Judy. I'm glad you said no and hope the city listens. You may want to contact the forestry service and alert them what the city wants to do, just in case!

Judy Alter said...

good idea, Claire. Thanks.